Babies who born prematurely are at increased risk of developing a wide range of mental health problems, found a new study. Depression, bipolar disorder and psychosis were more likely to develop in premature babies. The full-time pregnancies last for about forty weeks, but one thirteen babies are born before thirty-six weeks.
In a bit to examine the affects of premature birth tied to mental health, researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, analysed the statistics of more than one million people born in Sweden between 1973 and 1985. Researchers found more than ten thousand people were hospitalized with psychiatric disorders.
When they checked the medical history of the patients they found about six hundred of them had been born prematurely. The study showed that full-term babies had one in one thousand odd of being admitted. The risk was four in one thousand for preterm babies who born before thirty-six weeks and the risk was six in one thousand for those born before thirty-two weeks.
Extremely premature babies were more like to develop bipolar disorder by more than seven times and likely to develop depression by nearly three times. The real statistics may be higher because milder conditions would not have required a hospital visit. The risk was low and the vast majority of premature babies is perfectly healthy, explained one of the researchers, Dr Chiara Nosarti.
She added parents should not be worried, but they know that preterm birth confers an increased susceptibility to a range of psychiatric conditions and maybe parents should be aware of this and monitor early signs of later more serious problems. She speculated that disrupted development could affect the babies’ brains.
Marjorie Wallace, the chief executive of the mental health charity SANE, stated it is already known that premature birth may be associated with schizophrenia, but to see evidence linking it to a range of psychiatric conditions which required hospitalization is striking. The study was reported in The Archives of General Psychiatry.